Book Review: The Pigeon Whisperer by Motaz H Matar

About the Book:

The Pigeon Whisperer

With war ravaging his home in Syria, Dabbour, an introverted, 25-year-old pigeon herder, flees to Berlin with Yasser, his childhood friend. Dabbour is trying to learn the ropes in this new country; while trying to learn German he’s fallen for his German teacher, Zara. One day in a Berlin train station, Dabbour sees a wayward, injured pigeon on the railway tracks; without thinking he jumps to save it, causing chaos and almost getting himself killed. For this, he is arrested by the police – and he realizes how much he misses home and his birds. Yasser asks Dabbour to use his talents as a pigeon whisperer to steal stray pigeons and train them to transport drugs. Dabbour agrees, then realizes it was a big mistake. Dabbour sinks further and further into the world of crime and drug-smuggling, jeopardizing his residency status in Germany. Dabbour is forced to choose between his loyalty to his new family – the drug ring – and doing the right thing. Will love be his ultimate salvation?

My Thoughts:

I was provided with a copy of the book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The pigeon whisperer follows Dabbour’s journey as he flees to Berlin from war-ridden Syria. This book is moving in so many ways, it brings out many emotions and makes the reader pause and think. This is a story of wanting to belong, trying to hold on to an idea of self that a person has, trying to find one’s identity and place in a new country. The author brings about a contrast in view between Dabbour and his friend Yasser. As the story progresses, we see how Dabbour is drawn into a world of crime and drug-smuggling, using his talents as a pigeon whisperer, how he tries to fight against his role in this world and the role Yasser plays in convincing him.

In this story, we meet only a few characters. They are present to give us some perspective on the story and to bring out a diversity. We have Anna, a German police officer and Zara, the German teacher, who represent the people who are native to the country. Correspondingly, we meet Mr. Salim, a fellow Syrian who has been in Germany for over twenty years and who takes an interest in Dabbour and tries to look out for him.

The story is fast paced and well-crafted, raising points that we may have contemplated at different points in our lives: What does it take to belong? How far can one go for the things or people they love? What does it take to do the right thing? and many more. These questions are very pertinent and hit very close to home.

This book is well worth the read and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

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